Extreme Networks’ Purview Turns Net Management Into Big Data

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Data capture from networks could drive business decisions, says Extreme Networks

Extreme Networks has launched a product which turns networked application usage and performance data into raw material for analytics –  and it is already in use by the US National Football League (NFL).

Purview, developed since the company merged with the older network maker Enterasys, builds on the companies’ network monitoring strengths to provide an ASIC-based system that probes network traffic for information about application use. The idea is to give this knowledge to CIOs, so they can improve networks, make business decisions about the uses to which they are put, and improve security by spotting patterns.

virtual machine network security browser web map © Sergey Nivens ShutterstockAnalytics on network data

“CIOs shouldn’t just be building out infrastructure and solutions,” said Steve Johnson, head of UK and Ireland for Extreme. “They should be influential in defining business directions – and they can only do that through having access to business information.”

Purview captures data which Johnson says can be used in three ways – to provide analytics support to business decisions, to improve the network’s performance, and to make it more secure.

The product is already in use as “the official Wi-Fi analytics solution” for the NFL. Analysing the traffic from users’ Wi-Fi devices at stadia could help improve the service fans get during the game… or point to opportunities for the provider to squeeze more money from them, said Johnson: “If Purview identifies the apps most commonly used, the club could develop its own app for fans to lease while they are in the stadium.”

A US hospital adopted Purview to find why its video application was poorly used, said Johnson. It turned out that another application was hogging the bandwidth; further analysis showed it had a small group of users, but was blocking the network because the servers were located across the site. Resiting them meant there was enough bandwidth for everyone.

Purview is intended for large enterprises – the normal customer base of Enterasys and Extreme – but could trickle down to smaller organisations, or be offered to service providers. Johnson would not be drawn on the possible use it might have for the security services – or whether organisations adopting it might be requested to share data with those agencies.

Merging with Enterasys

In 2013, Extreme bought Enterasys, a company which had been founded in 1983 as Cabletron, and had declined from its early years as a serious challenger to the likes of Cisco. “Many people though of Enterasys as a legacy company,” said Johnson. “It turns out it was one of the industry’s best kept secrets.”

Enterasys had highly-regarded management products and support, was still making its own fabric switches, and was a similar size to Extreme, with both having a turnover around $300 million, said Johnson.

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